“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses.
Let me tell you something – there’s nothing I like more than my own company. Despite spending most of my alone time cursing myself for stupid things I said in social situations five years ago and the rest of it beating myself up over how generally inadequate I feel, I’m happiest when it’s just me and my thoughts – apart from when I feel desperately lonely which is at least 50% of the time, and in which case please never leave my side.
But seriously, I’d had a tough week in the office of life, so I booked myself on a flight to Ireland for a weekend trip at around £200 via BA. I’d never been before.
When I arrived I jumped straight onto a Airport Hopper bus to the Maldron Hotel Tallaght, which was advertised as close to the centre – turns out that it was 40 minutes away from the centre via tram, or the ‘luas’, as it’s called out there. My bad for not checking on Google maps before booking like I usually would, but they did have a lovely pool that I made the most of in my free moments.
After settling into my new home / having a solo dance party on my balcony that overlooked the Tallaght stadium, I was starving. Venturing outside my hotel, the area looked rough AF, but I cautiously ventured to a restaurant called Aussie Outback which was recommended by a local – with the likes of shark steak, BBQ snake sauce and kangaroo steak on the menu, every order feels like a new (and worthwhile) adventure.
I hopped on the luas and before I knew it I was at Abbey Street tram stop without much of a plan, so I walked northbound to the Dublin Writers Museum.
For €7.50, it is one of the higher end attractions given that many museums are free in the city. You’re provided with an audio guide while you explore the homely space, which feature displays from the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W. B Yeats and many more. I was pretty excited to see the first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula behind the glass – one of my favourite books, period.
Things close early when you compare it with other cities – by 16.45, the great folk of the Writer’s Museum were attempting to coax me out. Unsure of where I was going I strolled southbound, crossing the Ha’penny bridge and ending up at Temple Bar – until then, I had assumed Temple Bar was just a bar. I felt a bit silly when I realised that it is an actual area, found on the south bank of the River Liffey.
Straight away, I was drawn to a ridiculously tiny seafood bar called Klaw. Literally smaller than my humble living room, it was packed with people. Selling the likes of crab BLTs, oysters and seafood chowder, everything smelled beyond divine. I picked up a lobster roll to take back to the hotel for dinner to enjoy with a can of coke and an episode of Eastenders, because if that’s not heaven on earth I really don’t know what is.
Saturday morning started in Tallaght square shopping centre, where I grabbed an indulgent cheese toastie before making my way to The Spire of Dublin on O’Connell Street – I had read online that a tips-based walking tour of the Southside of Dublin began there at 11am. Around 30 of us had shown up, and we were split into two groups – my guide was called Peter and he was immensely informative, friendly and enthusiastic as he walked us around the Dublin Castle, Trinity College and the most notable cathedrals of the city.
We then stopped by The Temple Bar Pub for a quick look at their famous whiskey ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) and I ran over to Book Value to pick up a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses for €4. Surely the most famous book to come out of Dublin, it’s a landmark in modernist literature and I was feeling inspired from Peter’s discussion of the book on his tour.
Lunch was at Dublin’s traditional chippy Leo Burdock’s. The fish and chips was the most expensive, but thankfully equally the best I have ever had.
I really enjoyed my time with Peter on the walking tour, so I went back to The Spire at 3pm to explore the Northside of the city this time. This one was quieter, which was great for me as I got to ask everything I wanted to – from questions about their currency to their politics, and the country’s pagan origins. This tour provided a more detailed backdrop to the 1916 rising. Visiting the Garden of Remembrance and ending at the Famine Memorial, I left with a far greater insight into Irish history.
I was shattered at this point but as it was my last day in the city, I stuck around to wander the streets before ending up in the Duke Pub where I signed up for the Literary Pub Crawl. I was a bit worried about going alone, but everyone was lovely – I quickly became friends with three american women on the tour who were kind enough to take me under their wing(s). Two actors took us to Trinity College at nightfall, where they read works from the likes of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett, who were all educated there. We then moved on to pub after pub, and heard tale after captivating tale.
The tour ended around 10pm; by this time, the city had really come alive. The downside to being a woman alone is that I knew it was safest to take my ass home, even though I left knowing there was so much more to see. But I’ll be back, and next time with a friend – only because I’d feel safer exploring the nightlife with a friend; not because Dublin is a lonely city – in fact, it’s very much the opposite.